Today, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) went on MSNBC to attack the Senate Armed Services Committee report on the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees. When host Chris Matthews asked Ensign whether he was shocked that our interrogation practices were based on those used by Chinese Communists to elicit false information from U.S. troops, the senator criticized him for being “inflammatory.”
When Matthews insisted that he wasn’t being inflammatory because he was reading directly from the report, Ensign tried to discredit the entire document by saying it was a “Democrat partisan” report:
ENSIGN: Chris, the reason I said it is because you didn’t preface that with saying that was a Democrat report. That was a Democrat partisan report. And you have to understand where the people who were doing that report — where their ideology comes from.
MATTHEWS: Well, apparently, Sen. John McCain is part of what you call a “Democrat report.” It’s the full committee report. … [I]t’s the Armed Services Committee report. It went through three months of review by the Defense Department, until its final release just yesterday. It seems to me this was vetted, sir. And you say this was some Democrat report.
ENSIGN: The Democrats are in control of all of the committees. This was a Democrat majority report. This was not with the participation of the minority where the minority signed it, “Yes, we agree with these views.”
Ensign is right that there are often committee reports produced and released by only the minority or the majority. This report, however, was not one of them. The first page of the detainee report makes it clear that it is a document from the “Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate.” ThinkProgress spoke with a committee spokesman who confirmed that the full, unanimous committee released the report. When talking with Levin today, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell noted that Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham also endorsed the report.
Additionally, documents clearly show that the Bush administration’s interrogation program was based on the U.S. military program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE), which is used to train U.S. troops if they are ever tortured by an enemy that doesn’t adhere to the Geneva Conventions. As the report notes, SERE techniques “were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions.”
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